OPT: French civil society groups call on AXA to end alleged complicity in human rights abuse through its investments in Israeli banks & weapons manufacturer

AXA’s investments in three Israeli banks and a weapons manufacturer have been linked to human rights abuses and contraventions of international law. The three Israeli banks: Hapoalim, Leumi, and Mizrahi Tefahot, reportedly provide special loans for construction and infrastructure projects in Israeli settlements throughout the Occupied Territories. AXA also maintains investments in Elbit Systems, which reportedly supplies drones and white phosphorus shells used by the Israeli army against civilians in Gaza.

70 French civil society organizations published a communiqué claiming that "by investing in these companies and banks AXA is complicit in perpetuating decades of Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights and international law, in direct contradiction with its own guidelines and international directives", and calling on the company "to divest from any involvement and activity that legitimizes the violations of international law perpetrated by the state of Israel".

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited AXA to respond to these allegations. AXA’s response is provided below.

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Company response
10 September 2017

AXA responds to allegations re ties to Israeli settlement construction and weapons manufacturing

Author: AXA Group

...[W]e have duly taken note of your concern with regards to our investments in three Israeli banks. We were contacted in the past by some NGOs on the same topic, and had therefore reviewed it carefully, as we do when we receive questions about our investments. We would like to reassure you that AXA is not present and does not do business in the settlements, which are subject to an international United Nations resolution. The banks you are mentioning, which are under no legal restriction, were carefully examined by the teams involved in the decisions relative to our responsible investment policy. They concluded that these companies did not fall within the exclusion framework of our responsible investment policy, one of the most advanced and transparent in the financial sector. We hope to have reassured you on our investment policy.

Yours Faithfully,

AXA Group

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22 August 2017

French civil society organizations question AXA’s commitment to the UN Global Compact amid allegations of complicity in the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land

Author: BDS France

“AXA must comply with international law and break with Israel’s colonial, apartheid policy”, 28 July 2017

70 French organizations, associations, parties and unions have published a call to AXA to respect international law and cut ties with Israel’s colonial and apartheid policy. AXA is a shareholder of three Israeli banks: Hapoalim, Leumi and Mizrahi Tefahot. A report by the Israeli research group “Who Profits” found that all Israeli banks are implicated in the financial infrastructure that allows companies, government agencies and individuals to participate in the colonization of Palestine and perpetuation of the occupation. Through its subsidiary, AB, AXA maintains investments in Elbit Systems, a major Israeli weapons manufacturer accused of providing the illegal white phosphorus containing shells used by the Israeli army against civilians in Gaza. In an appeal published on 28 july 2017, the above mentioned groups called on AXA to put an end to its controversial partnerships and cease profiting from the occupation and colonization of the Palestinian people.

The signatories of this communiqué point out that international citizen engagement has forced companies such as Veolia and Orange to halt their involvement in Israeli colonization and that pension funds such as PGGM in the Netherlands, FDC in Luxemburg and Danske Bank in Denmark have all divested from Israeli banks due to their involvement with Israeli settlements…

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